Flames left Red-faced

Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg (bottom) scores past Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff while Tomas...

Red Wings' Henrik Zetterberg (bottom) scores past Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff while Tomas Holmstrom watches during third-period action on Thursday. (SUN MEDIA/Darren Makowichuk)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:11 AM ET

Those who filled the Saddledome had a good view of what makes the Detroit Red Wings the NHL's best team right now.

A solid look at why Wings star Henrik Zetterberg may very well be the league's most dominant player, too.

The way Jarome Iginla sees it, though, he and the rest of the Calgary Flames were far too busy admiring the visitors from the Motor City last night's 4-1 loss.

"We all knew it was a big game and a good challenge for us, and I think we over-respected these guys. We've done that for the last while against them," Iginla said.

"We play a game that when we're going we're moving our feet, we're controlling pucks, we're on them, we're making nice plays, we're driving the net, we're getting good shots, but we came out and we watched them.

"We watched them do their thing."

In one of those litmus-test matches against an upper-echelon teams, the Flames fell short, yet again.

Sure, they have a decent 6-4-3 record, but only one of those victories have come against a club above .500 and in a playoff spot.

Meanwhile, they've been dumped twice by the NHL-leading Wings (11-2-1) to go with loses against division leaders Philadelphia and San Jose -- the latter two at home yet, to boot.

"Quite frankly, I thought we'd play better than we did. I'm a little bit surprised that we didn't," said Flames head coach Mike Keenan.

"I thought we had enough momentum going into the game, in terms of building a success base and having that confidence to play a team who is on a roll and at the top of the conference and at the top of the league.

"I'm quite surprised we didn't really come out and play one of our best games."

You could say Keenan's charges came up with a strong half game, but it was nowhere near enough to erase a deficit created on goals by Jiri Hudler and Zetterberg in the middle of a one-sided first period.

After Dan Cleary made it a 3-1 count early in the second period, the Flames were by far the better team -- carrying play to the point the shot clock at one point read 18-6 for the visitors tilted all the way to a 21-19 edge for Calgary -- but it wasn't enough as Detroit claimed its seventh consecutive win.

"We tried to beat the Detroit Red Wings by playing like the Red Wings instead of playing our own game and establishing what the Calgary Flames are all about," said Calgary defenceman Robyn Regehr.

"That's the tough thing to do against this team. They want you to play their style of game, and when you do that as a team, they beat you."

To the delight of the sellout crowd of 19,289, Calgary actually opened the scoring when Iginla took advantage of a rare Nicklas Lidstrom miscue to set up Alex Tanguay's fourth goal of the season. From there, the hosts began serving up turnovers and struggled in their own zone until they fell behind by way too much.

Meanwhile, the Flames couldn't solve Wings goalie Chris Osgood over the final 54 minutes, despite many quality chances. Osgood finished with 26 saves.

"From the second period to a little ways in the third, they were coming at us pretty good," said Osgood, whose squad swept the three Western Canadian teams on a single trip for the first time.

"They just weren't getting bounces around the net. They were driving the net pretty good."

Having won four of seven games in this homestand, along with an overtime loss, the Flames now embark on a two-game road swing to Minnesota and Colorado.


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